With the dominance of electronic communication, I think good verbal communication skills are more important than ever. Simply because when you actually get in front of another human being, you have the chance of influencing them far more effectively than just by the written word. It’s oft quoted that 90% of the meaning of your communication is conveyed non verbally. Mmmm, maybe, maybe not. But it is certainly a large percentage.
In this blog however, I’m going to address what you say, rather than how you say it.
I think that one of the greatest sins – or one of the greatest pitfalls – of modern verbal communication (as well as written) is that of jargon. And funnily enough it is a modern affliction. Its a generalisation, but only a few decades ago we all spoke and wrote in a much more accessible way. People spoke and wrote to EXpress – rather than IMpress.
One particular industry that is absolutely chock full of jargon is the financial one – investment, fund management, banking – though the “disease” is fairly universal.
I once worked with a young fund manager, and he was a star at what he did. His funds performed superbly. Every fund manager in most financial institutions has to present to the rest of their bank – about once a quarter or once every six months – about what they are working on and how their funds are doing.
And most of the presentations are chock full of impenetrable jargon that even they don’t understand let alone their audience! I worked with this young man for a couple of sessions. Unfortunately I was not there for his big day, as I was elsewhere coaching and training, but I had THE best feedback I could possibly get.
The marketing director of this bank, who was a very feisty American lady, was heard coming out of his presentation saying ” You know, that was the first ******* presentation I have understood in this bank for two years.”
It’s amazing how so many of us try to bamboozle and impress by using language that is hard to understand, impressive though it may sound. It just becomes a barrier between you and your audience. As human beings we thirst to understand and in turn be understood. And when someone makes that easier, even safer for us, we respond with more openness and even warmth.
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